Matt Dillon debuts his junior season with a stellar performance that takes the Lions to yet a higher level.
By Renée Haip
The journey of an endurance runner does not begin at day one of official practice each season, but rather is a continuum spanning years. Here in Lyons, the community is fortunate to have attentive and thoughtful coaches to help guide young runners as they develop their potential both on and off the field. Now in its fourteenth year, the St. Vrain Cross Country Invitational meet proved once again to be a great place for the Lyons’ community to showcase their commitment to Lyons’ renowned small school running program. From parking to concessions to leading races
by bicycle, members of the community donated their time and talents to help pull off a smoothly run meet, one of the largest in Colorado all season long. This year’s invitation debuted Lyons’ redesigned five-kilometer course, which received enthusiastic reviews from spectators, coaches, and athletes alike.
The morning began with the two-mile middle school races, giving spectators a bright glimpse into the future, which was highlighted by sixth grader Isaac Roberts’ third place finish in 11:47, seventh grader Colton Jonjak-Plahn’s 23rd place finish (13:01), and sixth grader Nick Boggess’ 86th place finish (14:17) of the 466 young harriers to cross the finish line. Eighth grader, Sarah Roberts was the first young Lady Lion to finish with 15:39 for 56th place of 365 girls followed by fellow eighth graders, Sierra Tanner (120th in 17:05) and Amanda Dillon (148th in 17:36).
As the day began to heat up in earnest, the 2A/3A girls’ race set off with senior Miriam Roberts quickly taking the lead and fending off each and every challenge made by talented competitors such as Kelsi Lasota of Estes Park and Ginger Hutton of Shining Mountain Waldorf. Roberts maintained her lead the entire race, crossing the line first of 192 finishers to claim the 2A/3A title with a time of 19:57, thirteen seconds ahead of next place finisher, Hutton. Sierra Tucker began her sophomore campaign with an excellent time of 21:42, a big PR of thirty-eight seconds for eleventh place. Coming off of an unfortunate non-running injury, junior Jenna Anderson valiantly struggled through the race to finish 74th in 25:09. With the season just beginning, expect to see Anderson and fellow junior Faith Myers (also injured) back and running strong when it really matters. As a side note, the girls’ lack of a fourth varsity runner disqualified them from scoring as a team.
The young men of Lyons fielded two teams on race day with the top five racing up in the 4A/5A race and the others in the 2A/3A race. Senior Stephen Roberts and junior Brian Flynn led the 2A/3A race team with Roberts finishing 32nd of 229 finishers in his first official high school race with a terrific time of 19:12. Tragically, Flynn rolled his ankle coming down the hill approaching the two-mile mark and was unable to finish the race. Other finishers were sophomores Owen George placing 132nd in 22:02; Brian Dillon (144, 22:20); Peter Brookes (184, 24:12), and Ryan Allbrandt (185, 24:13). In his fourth year running for Lyons’ cross country with dedication, senior Matt Smith set a season best of 29:22 for 223rd.
In the last varsity race of the day under sweltering conditions, Lyons top-five boys set out to make a statement in the 4A/5A race. It was widely discussed that this Lyons’ small school powerhouse could have easily taken the 2A/3A boys’ team title, but had instead chosen the challenge of running with the big schools. With the crack of the gun, Denver East senior Cerake Geberkidane (currently ranked 3rd in the nation), separated himself from the pack and eventually set a blistering fast course record of 15:15, one that could stand for quite some time. The battle for second was between sophomore Paul Roberts and Pine Creek junior, Zachary Alhamra, who haunted Roberts’ every step. It was not until the last 150 meters that Roberts’ surge went unanswered by Alhamra and Roberts secured second place with an “at altitude” personal record (PR) match of 15:57.*
The Such brothers were the next Lions across the line with senior Marcel crossing ninth in 16:48 and sophomore Joel crossing twelfth in 16:58 (at altitude PR’s by five and ten seconds respectively). The best personal performance of the day belonged to junior Matt Dillon. Seemingly resistant to the extreme heat, Dillon ran strong and placed an excellent 29th with a twenty-five second PR of 17:31. Critically closing out the scoring was senior Heath Fesenmeyer, who crossed the finish in his own PR of 19:09 for 111th place in this 226 strong race of Colorado’s finest big school distance athletes. Of twenty-six teams, Lyons tied Air Academy for third with a score of 147. Since tie-breakers are decided by the sixth runner, Lyons officially placed fourth in the absence of a sixth runner.
How good exactly is this current Lyons’ team? They are clearly the strongest team in Lyons’ history, and arguably the fastest through three of any team in the state this year. At St. Vrain they proved to be the second strongest through four behind top-ranked Mountain Vista. The Lyons’ boys have made a clear show of domination, and with a long season ahead, the community wishes all the Lyons’ runners a successful and injury-free season ahead! Congratulations to all the athletes and their coaches on a fabulous season opener.
*For the purposes of reporting in the Lyons Recorder, an athlete’s personal record will be based on their best time set at a high school cross country meet at elevation in Colorado.